back to article Summer debut for Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle

US Army officials have announced that the high-tech XM-25 computer smartgun, intended to let soldiers shoot at and hit enemies hiding around corners, will enter field trials this summer. The "counter defilade" gun, similar in size to existing infantry weapons, is expected to reduce the number of controversial airstrikes used in …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    But JDAMs are more fun!

    Rule 37: There is no "overkill" - There is only "open fire" and "time to reload"!

    (http://store.schlockmercenary.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=P-R37)

    Seriously though, it must have been a pain to package all this as small as they did. It's also good that we're finally getting stuff for urban warfare, which has really been ignored. The rounds are probably huge, so I'm not surprised you'd have to switch magazines. I also saw a team taking out a sniper with an anti-tank missile, and those aren't much cheaper than JDAMs. There wasn't much doubt about the target still being alive, either.

  2. Richard

    Cool

    Shame it looks like a cheap sci-fi show prop.

  3. Mark Lockwood Silver badge
    Joke

    ntended to let soldiers shoot at and hit enemies hiding around corners?

    Great, now you don't even have to be in the line of sight to be hit by friendly-fire...

  4. Shakje

    First thought is that it looks like

    A pulse rifle..

  5. Klaus

    Wireless Signal

    What happens if there's EM jamming in the area where the gun is used? Alternately, could somebody send a signal to tell all of the shells in the gun to go off at once, permanently removing the guns owner and any close by comrades?

  6. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Needs an improvement

    'The XM-25 smartgunner then selects how much nearer or further from that location he thinks the target is - for an enemy behind a normal wall, the soldier would choose +1 metre.'

    Hopefully this is interactive and performed with the voice of Bruce Forsyth.

    'Oooh so that's five metres. Do you want to go higher or lower? [BANG!] Good game! Good game!'

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Just another toy

    When will people learn that it's not technology that wins wars but brains, daring and a bit of luck. This weapon is just another 'silver bullet'. And when it doesn't win the war, someone will produce another, and when that doesn't work...rinse and repeat. The US army never learns anything. It doesn't attract the brightest and best minds, and if, by chance, it does find someone intelligent in its ranks, it wastes that talent. Afghanistan probably isn't winnable, but if it is possible, it won't be done by the mediocre. It's not just me who says this before anyone protests. Read, for instance, The Hollow Army by William Darryl Henderson, who was a colonel in the US army. He points out, for one, that, as a matter of policy, intelligent soldiers are taken away from combat roles and put into administrative positions.

  8. Neil

    Worms.

    Nuff said.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Knowing Users

    They will mistake a plus for a minus add a couple of extra zero's and blow themselves up. This should prove popular with the civilians of any country we happen to invade/occupy to liberate the locals from their mineral resources.

  10. David Edwards

    Just like

    A mortar then, but I suppose that needs someone who can "do the math".

  11. Eero af Heurlin

    re wireless signal

    The "wireless signal" is extremely short-range here and the frame of the weapon/magazine is likely to provide more than adequate shielding from jamming/malicious signals.

    Jamming the laser rangefinder is also tad difficult...

  12. Lottie

    Dredd

    Dredd only shouted his ammo choices as the guns ammo selector was voice activated.

  13. Chris King
    Thumb Up

    Re: Wireless Signal

    This won't be a problem. First - the shells won't have a permanently activated receiver. You're not exactly going to surf the net with them.

    The power supply is probably a chemical battery which is activated when the shell is fired. As I understand it, the shell is told to explode after a certain number of revolutions, and it gets told on its way down the barrel. The sensible thing to do would be to ignore any further signals after that. Its therefore very unlikely that they could be subverted.

  14. Mark Boothroyd

    @Wireless Signal

    Quote: 'The shell in the XM-25's breech gets its electronic time fuse precisely set by a wireless transmission from the smartgun computer at the instant it is fired.'

    I assume this would mean the shell would ignore any commands until it's actually fired, possibly even being completely dormant until loaded in the barrel. Only activating themselves once loaded in the barrel, and possibly not even arming the explosive system until after the shell has been fired (like a torpedo or missile, they arm on route, not in the launcher).

    I would also expect the shells have a built in minimum range, to make sure they are a safe distance from the person firing the weapon before going off.

    So worse case, even if the shells were compromised somehow, they'd go off mid air on the way to the target. So just make sure your not in between the two :-)

  15. Brian Morrison
    Flame

    Wireless does not mean long range

    The shell programming could be done using a short range NFC-like mechanism, after all until it's left the barrel it can't be more than a few mm away from the transducer.

  16. Jan
    Alert

    A lot cheaper than airborne weapons?

    How long before the <insert enemy> will be able to buy or capture these?

    If these guns are really smart, will they be keyed so that only US soldiers can activate them?

    Aeroplane based weapons maybe expensive, but it appears that the USA's recent enemies can't afford them. These guns may level the playing field faster than SAMs.

  17. Stuart Van Onselen

    @Klaus

    Since the wireless signal probably has to travel no more than a centimeter or two, and can probably be isolated from interference by a layer of tin-foil inside the gun, I doubt that jamming or spoofing will be much of a problem.

    I'm sure the designers have come up with other safeguards, too. They've had enough time and been paid enough money to do so! Just how long has this development program been dragging on?

  18. Joel Bjorge

    @Klaus

    I'm guessing it's a very short range wireless tech, along with some good encryption (unique key for each shell randomly generated by gun when clip is loaded would be cool). Also, there are probably safeguards built into the shells that prevent them from detonating until AFTER they've been fired.

  19. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    Wouldn't an AA-12 be better

    i.e. a rapid fire shotgun that fires mini grenades out to 175 metres?

    See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ebtj1jR7c

    for more; its like one of those JML adverts for cooking accessories. "With your AA-12 you can slice and dice, but wait, there's more!"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    UK could have had it years ago

    I built a prototype of this for a consultancy years ago, but for a rifle fired grenade so no need of fancy electronic fusing. Just a laser rangefinder, tilt meter and a display/sight that bolt onto any rifle.

    The army loved it and then we tried to sell it:

    Ok, but you have to be compatible with 'infantry soldier 2000 specification' - which we hope to publish some time in 2047

    And it has to work with our new battle field radio system, that we haven't finished specifying yet.

    And we only buy from BAe/Quinetiq/Thales so you have to partner with one of those

    You have to get agreement from every other Nato country plus anybody else we think that we might ever sell it to, plus a few countries that we made up.

    It has to meet all their requirements and standards as well.

  21. MinionZero
    Black Helicopters

    Weapon evolution

    @Klaus: I expect the complex electronics are in the gun. The bullets only need a timer and a detonator plus whatever is in its warhead.

    How long before we get rocket fuel in the bullet so it becomes a complete mini missile able to steer itself around targets and then explode.

    Then combine these smart bullets with Metal Storm for real scary next generation weaponry.

    It seems such an easy idea that weapon effectiveness evolution is directly inversely proportional to survivability. But its also so scary that this madness continues to be pushed for so much around the world. It simply means that as time passes weapons will find it ever easier to kill everyone. (Plus that is before you even consider any kind of Tech Singularity accelerating advances in technology).

    2029 News: The Terminator uprising this morning is going well, with the current scores as follows (for anyone who doesn't want to see the scores please look away now, and place head in sand).

    Terminators Score : 6.5 Billion

    Humans Score: 0

    Play ended, due to lack of humans.

  22. /dev/me
    Coat

    WiFi?? Wardrivers, I say. How long till...

    Ur gunz g0t HaxXord n00bz1

    Mine is the one with the 'Wireless Security Pocket Reference' in the ... pocket, obviously

  23. jai

    but where is

    the "double whammy" ammo that he uses in the film to great effect?

    and is it compulsory, after using this weapon, to stand up and shout "I AM.... THE LAW!!!"

  24. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

    @Jan

    Today's enemy has the RPG. (Rocket Propelled Grenade).

    He shoots and then ducks out of site until he's ready to take the next shot.

    This is a follow on to the OICW project that involved a couple of global defense contractors including HK. See : http://www.hkpro.com/oicw.htm

    Of course there they were trying to have the gun be both a 20mm launcher and 5.56 Nato assault rifle. (And I think that the XM project is a continuation from the OICW.)

    The key here is that if you don't have the ammo, or the batteries for the electronics the gun is pretty useless.

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Nah!

    No, not at all like a mortar, which is a high trajectory indirect fire weapon. This weapon purports to be able to put a round through a window, said round being then told to explode *before* it hits anything, a direct fire technique requiring little retraining of the rifleman's skills and not being rendered unuseful by the presence of heavy-duty bunker roofing like wot a mortar is.

    It remains to be seen whether it can be made to work reliably under battlefield conditions.

    It must be hard training the soldiers not to put them down in places where they disappear into the groundcover withn all that applique camoflage though. That applique is cool tech though. American too, as it happens :o)

  26. Chris G Silver badge

    Define

    Smart friendly fire!

  27. graeme leggett

    Two words - trades descriptions..

    This doesn't fire round corners, it fires over them.

    The Jerries had a gun that fired round corners the "Sturmgewehr 44" with Krummlauf' attachment. Might have only been a bent barrel with a mirror on the end but it did fire round corners.

    Now if you really want to fire round corners "Rubber Ricochet!"

  28. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Coat

    Squaax calling Tharg

    ...please send a Rigellian Hotshot to El Reg; they're clearly suffering from a serious thrillsucker infestation if they really think Dredd would shout "steel-tipped high penetration!" rather than "Armour piercing!"

    Mine's the one with a rolled-up copy of Prog 1637 in the pocket and the lapel badge advertising http://www.2000adonline.com , ta.

  29. Craster

    Technology?

    "When will people learn that it's not technology that wins wars but brains, daring and a bit of luck"

    No, it's technology. It's always been technology, from Rome's iron gladii to England's longbowmen at Agincourt to the bomb at Hiroshima. That's why we're not sending our boys out to the Middle East with flint axes.

  30. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Boffin

    Umm...

    "Afghanistan probably isn't winnable, but if it is possible, it won't be done by the mediocre. It's not just me who says this before anyone protests. Read, for instance, The Hollow Army by William Darryl Henderson, who was a colonel in the US army. He points out, for one, that, as a matter of policy, intelligent soldiers are taken away from combat roles and put into administrative positions...."

    Pardon me for thinking, but isn't it possible that what you need to win a war IS intelligent people in ADMINISTRATIVE positions?

    Anyone who likes shooting guns is pretty brain-dead anyway, and of no value in a guerilla war, or in a conventional one, come to that. There will always be more grunts to replace cannon-fodder. What you want are people who can develop tactical and strategic positions, and you don't want these rare beasts killed by friendly fire....

  31. Dex
    Joke

    @jai

    but where is

    By jai Posted Wednesday 27th May 2009 17:50 GMT

    and is it compulsory, after using this weapon, to stand up and shout "I AM.... THE LAW!!!"

    ---

    God i hope not, You might end up with an anti-armour rocket up the jacksie

  32. Rich
    Coat

    Quoting Tojo

    "When will people learn that it's not technology that wins wars but brains, daring and a bit of luck"

    That's a quote from Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tōjō, August 5th, 1945.

  33. E

    Minimum range?

    The gun seems to be a sort of ballistic weapon: the little bomb follows a trajectory taking it over the obstruction.

    What if the evil-doer is behind a ten foot wall that is, say, ten feet away? The trajectory would be mostly vertical. I would not want to be betting my ass on the accuracy of the delivery.

    So it has a minimum range or range/angle limitation.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Camouflage and Pixelization

    The photo caption ("Sadly the chameleon video-camouflage coating still suffers from pixellation at times.") is somewhat misleading. Some U.S. Army uniforms are similarly "pixelated", so this blockiness is presumably by design and not by accident.

    Perhaps someone in the armed forces (of any nation) can comment on the effectiveness of this type of camouflage or can point us to a URL explaining why the camouflage is not rounded-off like traditional designs.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Technology doesn't help?

    "When will people learn that it's not technology that wins wars but brains, daring and a bit of luck. "

    Brains, daring and some luck definitely help, but before you underestimate the role of technology in winning wars, ask Hirohito how some technology blasted a certain "Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" firmly and forever into the history books.

    The other side has brains, daring and some luck too, so OUR side gets the edge by having all of the above AND some proper death-tech as well.

    I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    When in doubt, nuke 'em from orbit and be sure.

  36. Charles Manning

    re:Afghanistan probably isn't winnable

    Which is why you move the theatre of operation to Iraq, thousands of miles away.

    NB though adding "cave" to the sales pitch. Nice buying cue for Al qaeda hunters.

  37. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Just one thing

    If each soldier carries a field pack of the same weight, how many more bullets does the guy with the M-4 get?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Another vote for technology

    Technology doesn't win wars? How do you think you Brits would have fared against the Zulu Impis without the Maxim gun?

    Ta, dudes - peace through superior firepower.

  39. Greg Trocchia

    @AC (Just another toy)

    I think you underrate the "force multiplier" effect of superior technology. I would speculate that this is because recent wars have tended to be 1) contests between combatants of roughly similar technological level and/or 2) Asymmetrical contests (i.e. guerilla wars), where conventional measures of military strength tend to go out the window. The most recent war to feature a significant disparity in technology was the first Gulf War- notice how lopsided the casualties were in that conflict. Indeed, in your own colonial past you can see an even clearer demonstration of the power of technology in the form of this little ditty from Hilaire Belloc:

    "Whatever happens, we have got

    The Maxim gun, and they have not"

    As to assertions that "the US Army never learns anything", I would point out that 3 years ago it seemed that the situation in Iraq was spiraling out of control which would end with the US having to slink away as AQI took control of the country. A change in leadership, putting General Petraeus in charge of the theater, and consequent change in the way the Army fought the war allowed the Army to capitalize on the fact that the AQI types had managed to make themselves even more unwelcome than the US. That doesn't sound like an Army which refuses to learn anything to me.

    Perhaps Afghanistan will be a tougher nut to crack. It is, after all, known as "The Graveyard of Empires". That said, I wouldn't be so quick to write the fight there off as unwinnable before seeing whether the aforementioned General Patraeus can turn things around there.

  40. noodle heimer

    tech may win wars, but I laughed when i understood this one

    Show of hands - anyone here spent any time trying to get one of the nice automatic telescope mounts calibrated?

    Much of what they're doing is much of what this beast is trying for.

    I don't expect great things out of this, especially in real world conditions.

    On the wireless fusing... sadly, it sounds as if anyone who can generate enough signal to arm the cartridges will probably have already microwaved the d00d carrying the high-end shooter. Truly that did sound like an amusing attack mode against these weapons.

  41. Stuart McLachlan
    Boffin

    @Minimum Rage

    "What if the evil-doer is behind a ten foot wall that is, say, ten feet away? The trajectory would be mostly vertical. I would not want to be betting my ass on the accuracy of the delivery."

    Hardly vertical.

    If you mean the wall is 10 feet away from the firer.

    If the weapon isshoulder fired from ,say, five feet above the ground, the projectile only has to be fired at an elevation of 26 degrees and rise 5 feet in it's first 11.2 feet of travel to clear the wall.

    If you mean that the wall is 10 feet in front of the evil-doer:

    At any reasonable range from the firer, aim the weapon to just clear the wall and it will still explode only a few feet above the evil-doer.

  42. John Smith Gold badge
    Go

    I hope it does not use Windows.

    It reads motion and tells you when to fire, but it can be over ridden. Sounds like quite a well thought out UI. No fumbling around with screens, thumb balls or boot sequences.

    How well it works in the field is another matter.

    And I think you'll be needing a White Phosphorous option for sale to Israel.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Simples

    Nuke 'em till they glow then shoot 'em in the dark.

    Simples

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    BF2142?

    These are very similar to the PK-74_AR-Rocket that you can find in the game BF2142,

    http://bf2142.gamestrafe.com/PK-74_AR-Rocket

    I don't know about real life but they are really good for taking out bugged in players in a game.

    They kick ass.

  45. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Unhappy

    RE: @Jan

    "Today's enemy has the RPG. (Rocket Propelled Grenade). He shoots and then ducks out of site until he's ready to take the next shot....." The Russian RPG7V, which I presume you are referring to, is not fast to fire or amazingly accurate, at least not in the hands of poorly-trained "militants". Like a lot of relatively slow rockets, the RPG round is prone to be blown off target by even light breazes, and holding the weapon steady whilst aiming and firing is essential as it is a completely manual process.

    In Iraq, the Princes Wales Royals recorded the RPG rounds fired from ranges as short as fifty yards at the Al Amara compound. Almost 10% of the RPG rounds completely missed the buildings in a compound larger than a football pitch!

    Mind you, another Iraqi "militant" tactic that was used at Al Amara will make the XM-25 less than useless in many urban situations. In fact, positively unwanted! The AQ militants often deliberately use the local populance as human shields, and will snipe from buildings and even rooms with children in them as they know this will often stop even return rifle fire. In Iraq, before calling for an airstrike, our troops have to take every precaution to ensure their will be no civillian casualties. Being able to accurately fire a mini-grenade into a room with innocent children in it will just give terrorists more propaganda. Out in the Afghan countryside there is a role for a weapon that can take out enemies hiding in ditches, spiderholes or caves, but not in the urban fighting common in Iraq.

  46. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Overtech

    "What if the evil-doer is behind a ten foot wall that is, say, ten feet away? The trajectory would be mostly vertical. I would not want to be betting my ass on the accuracy of the delivery."

    Um, then you lob a conventional grenade over said wall with wetware tech.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    re: Technology doesn't help?

    For a classic example of technology vs brains/daring/luck, see recent(ish) conflict involving Israel vs Hezbollah on Lebanese turf.

    Brains/Daring/Luck = 1 v Technology = 0

    Sheer weight of fire-power and mounting appalling civilian casualties evened the odds eventually but the lesson is still valid.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I repeat, it is just a toy

    To all of those who think that technology alone wins wars, have a look at the history of the Mongols. When they took on the Chinese, they took on a foe who was numerically - and technologically - superior. The Chinese had gunpowder and the Mongols did not. The Mongols won. Oh, and at the beginning of WWII, the Japanese had the best air force in the world.

    Putting intelligent people in administrative positions where they count beans, tick charts and come up with yet more regulations is stupid. How on earth do you think people will get enough experience to understand the tactical and strategic issues unless they have experience in the field? You can't run a war as if it is a video game.

    The assertion that 'Anyone who likes shooting guns is pretty brain-dead anyway, and of no value in a guerilla war, or in a conventional one, come to that.' This is an insult to soldiers everywhere. Treating soldiers like cannon fodder is precisely why intelligent people prefer non-combat positions. No matter how carefully you plan, sooner or later someone is going to have to start shooting. Intelligent people, properly trained, can make sure the bullets do something useful. As I understand it, US forces are prone to panic firing. This means they are badly trained. Why are they badly trained? Because no one intelligent is in charge of the training. No one sees the need to train them so that they respond correctly under fire. There was never any need for them to call in air strikes to deal with snipers on rooftops. Haven't the US forces ever heard of counter-snipers?

    I predict that what will happen if this weapon works is this. The US forces carrying these weapons will come under fire from a sniper. Because they are ill trained, they will indiscriminately start firing this new toy. Yeah, it will kill fewer civilians than an air strike, but that's all. It isn't really a weapon, it's a propaganda piece.

    Until the US army starts training its soldiers properly, until it re-organises its structure so that it has proper regiments, and until it makes combat roles the most important ones, then it will have learnt nothing.

  49. David Evans

    @I repeat, it's just a toy

    "To all of those who think that technology alone wins wars, have a look at the history of the Mongols. When they took on the Chinese, they took on a foe who was numerically - and technologically - superior. The Chinese had gunpowder and the Mongols did not. The Mongols won. Oh, and at the beginning of WWII, the Japanese had the best air force in the world."

    No one said technology alone wins wars, superior strategy and tactics are fairly helpful, and tech is part of that. And you're making the fatal mistake of assuming that technological superiority automatically means bigger guns; the mongols actually had two technological advantages over the Chinese, the stirrup and the recurve horse bow (far more useful than gunpowder at the time). And your Japanese example only serves to confirm the point; their superior technology helped them win until it wasn't superior any more; by 1943 the Americans had superior numbers AND superior technology, which made for a pretty compelling argument.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Again, it is just a toy.

    The Mongols were beseiging Chinese cities. The stirrup and the horse bow really don't help to do this. And the Japanese and others continued to have technology that was superior to that of the US right up until the end.

    I notice that no-one has bothered to try to refute my arguments that US soldiers are poorly trained and that they panic fire. Give me better training over toys anytime.

  51. fajensen Silver badge

    Afghanistan, a water-mark!

    """

    Perhaps Afghanistan will be a tougher nut to crack. It is, after all, known as "The Graveyard of Empires".

    """

    Afghanistan is not so tough IMO - It's more like litmus test, ala:

    *Any* empire stupid enough to care enough about that piece of god-forsaken, worthless, if not the arse of the world then firmly within farting distance of it ... err ... land is so far over the hill that it is irrecoverable. Invaders of Afghanistan are past sustainable stupidity.

    Certainly there are terr-ist bent on destroying the West in Afghanistan/Pakistan. That is easily solved by not allowing anyone from the entire region into western territory to begin with and not employing people with islamist affiliation. Like we openly did with the citizens of the USSR and DDR - with no whining from the UN too ;-)=.

  52. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Boffin

    Stereotypes not helpful

    While it is true that the Mongol use of the stirrup and the recurve horse bow and associated tactics was characteristic the Mongol empire that invaded China was not homogenious as it involved troops and tech from conquered territories. The Mongols were very good siege engineers or had access to very good siege engineers as at that time most of conquering a territory involved knocking over the cities and replacing the rulers.

    So it is true that a pile of horse archers are not much use in siege warfare against a fortified town, unless said horse archers are the vanguard and the army of which they are part has a history of killing/enslaving any and all who oppose them in which case a wise ruler opens the gates to them and does due obeisance to his new overlords. Once they had built their reputation they had to do very little in the way of actual siege work . . .

    Be very glad that as Attila and his Huns found, Western Europe is a crap place for a horse army, not enough fodder. Why for European armies the infantryman was always the bulk with the cavalry a small elite.

  53. Greg Trocchia

    @AC (I repeat,it is just a toy)

    As Muscleguy pointed out, the Mongols were no slouches when it came to the technology of warfare (which is what we are talking about). The Chinese may have out done them in other forms of technology, but in war making tech they did not notably outclass the Mongols.

    As to the Japanese, their planes may have been somewhat superior at the outset of WW 2, but there is a difference between a slight edge and massive superiority. The American fighters of the day (the P-40 and F4F), for example, had advantages in particular areas like like durability and speed in a dive that they could and did use to counter the advantages of the Zero quite handily when used correctly (as the kill ratio of the Flying Tigers illustrates).

    That is part of the point, an edge in tech is nice to have, but the kind of technical advantage I am talking about is more of a night-and-day type thing. Consider, for example, what happened to Confederate units armed with muzzle loaders faced when they encountered one of the (relatively rare) Union detachments armed with repeating rifles during the American Civil War. The reason for that rarity, BTW, is the decision by some functionary in the War Department, with a mindset similar to yours, not to officially adopt repeating rifles because they would "encourage soldiers to waste ammunition".

    As to your arguments that US soldiers are poorly trained, there is nothing to refute, you just made a flat assertion with nothing to back it up. Anecdotally, I would point out that the video clips that I have seen from Iraq and Afghanistan did not show any instances of panic fire, specifically, nor much in the way of apparent inadequate training, in general.

    Your whole assumption seems to be that spending on new weapon tech is done to the exclusion of money for training. With a military budget of US$651.2 billion(!), I think there's room for spending on tech like the XM 25 without shortchanging training.

  54. Dave
    Flame

    @Craster

    Half - correct.

    Where there is a massive difference, technology usually wins - but not always.

    Rorke's Drift, anyone? A pirhic victory at best, and the battle of Isindlwala (sp?) a day or two before was a complete loss to the British, due to overwhelming numbers, and greater self-belief. It would be more factually correct to say that the braver side always wins - the man who remains calm retains his skills better, and both negative and positive-reinforcement starts to occur then, depending on which side you are on.

    @Mark

    AA-12 has its uses, so do sniper-rifles, area-suppression machine guns, mortars, RPGs etc etc.

    That is why a typical infantry unit consists of a variety of specialists, but also why combined weapons like the under-slung grenade-launcher are favoured, but there is no chance that this will ever have a Judge-Dredd style selector on it, as every magazine ever made is strictly one-by-one loading: tracer always has to be pre-loaded, and only changing a belt/magazine can affect its usage pattern.

  55. David Gillies

    @Dave

    Rorke's Drift a Pyrrhic (note spelling) victory? Not hardly. 17 killed out of 139. The idea that the braver side always wins is rubbish. Who were braver at Omdurman, Kitchener's army or the Dervishes? Who were braver on Iwo Jima, the Marines or the Japanese defenders? Courage is a very important factor, but technology can produce lopsided results irrespective of the relative bravery of the combatants. It took just as much courage to fly a bomber over Germany in 1941 as in 1945, but in 1941 crews were lucky to deliver their bombload within five miles of the target (frequently they bombed the wrong country, never mind the wrong city). By war's end average targeting error was down to 300 yards, with some specialist units achieving as little as 80 yards. The difference in combat effectiveness was profound, and it was almost wholly due to technology.

    I'm also a bit fed up with the assertion that US troops are mindless undeducated automatons given to panicking and shooting indiscriminately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their NCOs, in particular, are absolutely excellent, and it is not uncommon to find, say, a SSG with a Bachelor's or even Master's degree.

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